Quick and easy to assemble pumpkin stone soup
My college roommate, Julie, used to gauge my feelings by what I was whipping up in the kitchen.
Tuna noodle casserole was a quick and thrifty dish signifying broke but determined. Blueberry coffee cake signaled adventurous, yet grounded. Soup, however, was a loaded proposition.
Soup made her ask: “What happened?” or “Who broke up with whom?” or “So your term paper’s due tomorrow?”
Something about the process of soup-making soothes the spirit. Though it can be made quickly, soup also can be cooked “low and slow,” as my daddy used to say. While it bubbles to perfection, the whole house fills with comforting aromas.
In college, I used to relish all the grating and chopping — something that can be speeded up tremendously by purchasing precleaned and cut veggies in the produce section or even at the grocer’s salad bar. When there’s time, I’m still partial to slice and dice the old-fashioned way. It’s a good time to ruminate over whatever’s going on in your life — or escape it all while you focus on chop, chop, chopping.
Soup also is a favorite because it’s so forgiving. Don’t have enough broth? Just add water and maybe an extra sprinkle of seasoning. Don’t have fresh veggies? Add canned or frozen. Missing an ingredient? Add something from the same “family” — noodles instead of potatoes, for instance, or spinach instead of green beans.
This recipe came from an old Girl Scout activity, based on the stone soup folk tale. Each scout brings one ingredient. Alone, each girl’s ingredient is simply that: A can of broth. An onion. Some dried beans. Together, however, all these ingredients make a wonderful soup. (Even better if you’ve got some cornbread or crusty sourdough for dipping!)
So I played “stone soup” in my pantry the other day, and the results were so tasty that I jotted down the recipe for the family cookbook. Even my teenage vegan liked it! It’s quick and easy to assemble, and it brewed in the crockpot while we were at after-school activities. I’ve also included how to make it on the stove top.
Pumpkin Stone Soup
1 32-ounce carton low-sodium vegetable broth
2 mini-cans V8 juice (total 11 ounces)
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1 15-ounce can tri-bean blend (kidney, pinto, black), drained
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
1 14-ounce package frozen potato and veggie sauté blend*
*I used Alexia brand Harvest Sauté, with red potatoes, onions, carrots and green beans
Put broth, V8, pumpkin puree and diced tomatoes with juice into a soup pot or crockpot. Stir to mix well. Add beans and the frozen potato and veggie blend, including sauté seasoning packet. If using a crockpot, cover and cook on high two hours or on low for four hours. No need to stir until the soup is ready. If you’re using the stove top, bring to a quick boil, stirring gently. Once soup is boiling, turn it to low, cover and simmer at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.